The number of confirmed malaria cases reported in the United States in 2014 is the fourth highest annual total since 1973, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the 2014 number of 1,724 cases is down slightly from 1,741 – the previous year’s number of confirmed cases.
The CDC monitors malaria cases in part to identify any instances of local, rather than imported, transmission. For 2014, no cases of local transmission were reported.
Of the imported transmission cases for which the region of acquisition was known, 1,383 (82.1%) came from Africa and 160 (9.5%) from Asia, making up all but 62 of the imported cases. The four leading countries of origin in Africa were Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (346, 153, 133, and 125 cases, respectively). Most of the cases from Asia came from India, which accounted for 100 of the 160 cases.
Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea were the countries primarily affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak in 2014 and into 2015. The study authors, Kimberly E. Mace, PhD, and Paul M. Arguin, MD, noted in the May 26 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that “Ebola negatively impacted the delivery of malaria care and prevention services in the Ebola-affected countries, which could have increased malaria morbidity and mortality” (MMWR Surveill Summ. 2017;66:1-24).
“Despite progress in reducing global prevalence of malaria, the disease remains endemic in many regions and use of appropriate prevention measures by travelers is still inadequate,” they added.
Among all cases, 17% were classified as severe illness, including five deaths (a decrease from 10 deaths in 2013). All five patients who died reported not taking chemoprophylaxis during their travel. More than half (57.5%) of the patients reported that the purpose of their travel was to visit friends and relatives.
“Health care providers should talk to their patients, especially those who would travel to countries where malaria is endemic to visit friends and relatives, about upcoming travel plans and offer education and medicines to prevent malaria,” the authors wrote.